UNDERGRADUATE ADMISSIONS at WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY in ST. LOUIS

Italian Dinner Food

Class Highlight: Dinner in Italian

It is Labor Day Monday and all classes are cancelled, except for ours (don’t worry, it is totally worth it). It is time for the cooking portion of our conversational based Italian cooking class. We arrive in the kitchen and settle down in front of the recipes. Soon we assign a cooking conductor and begin a symphony of stirring sauce, slicing zucchini, cubing cucumbers, can-opening cans of cannellini beans, and a chorus of questions in Italian…

“Quanto?”

“Cosa?”

“Che?”

Every hand busy preparing for antipasti, primo, secondo, and contorno. Bright red tomatoes, large garden grown zucchinis, tear-inviting white onions, and fresh peppery arugula. Soft pillows of mozzarella cheese are tucked into a bed of greens with sheets of ripe tomatoes. Prosciutto is delicately separated into thin pink silky layers and draped gently over a porcelain plate. The beans blended into paste and mixed with the vegetables to be rolled. Time passes through the joy of cooking and practicing Italian conversation, and the antipasti is done. We salt the pasta water and sit down to share the first bites of our tasty toils. We wait for a verdict…

“Buono?”

“Buono!”

“Buonissimo!”

Smiles soft and cravings curbs, we are now ready for il primo. The banter is now a little more lively as our stomachs have started to fill. The water bubbles and froths as we pour in the pasta and adjust the heat. Those delicious sounds of savory cooking fill the kitchen: chopping of the onions, grinding of the salt shaker as it seasons the tomatoes, dicing of garlic, and the pop as the lid on the jar of sauce is twisted open by a strong hand. The pasta is just about ready to be mixed with the vegetables in the pan. We are anxious to continue eating so we chat to fill the time. We talk of snacks, specifically the beautifully bowl of figs on the counter.

“Hai mangiato i fichi?”

“Possiamo mangiare i fichi”

“Si, certamente!”
We break the figs open, the dark purple skin exposes soft pinks and whites of the inner flesh. The taste is sweet and delicate. The perfect snack, in the perfect timing, because soon enough, our pasta is done! We sit down properly for our food, setting the table together, serving each other, and continuing our conversation over the meal.

“che tipo di cane?”

“Un labrador.”

“Avete avuto i audizioni per la danza?”

“Abbiamo i audizioni questa settimana.”

“Questo cibo è buono.”

“Molto buono.”

All too quickly, the evening has passed, the plates are empty, the serving dishes are gone, and the conversation slows as we grow a bit sleepy. It’s been a wonderful close to a long weekend. Antipasti. Primo. Contorno. And wonderful conversation. And for dessert? Stay tuned for class next week! (Hint: it is tiramisu.)